“This approach got people asking questions and it cleared up a lot of misunderstandings,” noted Tom Trainor, President and Founder of Trainor Builders– a 100% ESOP composed of highly trained construction professionals serving Northern California.

“All our employees got a chance to have a company-wide experience getting the same information.  The way we did it made it possible for each person to learn and ask questions in their preferred language,” noted Jon-Mark Chappellet, Vice President.

At Trainor Builders roughly half of the workforce would prefer to learn new information in Spanish rather than English. The company announced the establishment of the ESOP in 2023 and followed up with a more detailed meeting in March of 2024. The 2024 meeting was a chance for employees to dig into the details about the ESOP’s implementation, how the plan works, and learn more about Emerson Rickstrew, the ESOP’s independent trustee.

Trainor Builders ESOP Rollout

With the help of our bi-lingual ESOP Consultant, Cecilia Garcia, Tom Trainor explains why the company has an ESOP.

Early in the planning for this meeting, company leaders insisted that this meeting include everyone in the same room, giving everyone the opportunity to hear the same message. “We want to share the same information with everyone about why we did the ESOP and why we made certain choices in the plan design – like counting prior years’ service and including a prior year of benefit.  It is important to share this information with everyone together,” explained Tom Trainor.

Blue Ridge crafted a blended meeting with the essential messengers – company leaders and the ESOP trustee – and then split into two language groups to learn more through a custom version of our “ESOP: What’s in It for Me?” presentation. The whole group reconvened to share questions that were discussed in each of the language specific sessions. This ensured that everyone was given a chance to hear key questions answered in both languages.

Our bi-lingual communication professionals at Workplace Development provide a range of services including custom videos, materials, and presentations both in Spanish and English. Below are some of the tips we have learned about communicating your ESOP effectively in Spanish and English.

Keep verbally interpreted content in a meeting brief.

It’s hard for any of us to keep our concentration when someone speaks in English and then someone repeats it in Spanish. At Trainor Builders, this dual language presentation approach was limited to an introduction and remarks from the founder and the trustee. After that, employees went into breakout rooms for each language where they could ask questions in their preferred language.

There’s a difference between hearing and understanding.

Anyone can hire a translator, to say what an ESOP is, but the simple translation of words will not do. In most cases, translators will not understand the meaning behind the words they are saying. Make sure your translator has practice explaining ESOPs accurately in plain language. Here at Blue Ridge our team not only speaks Spanish and English; we speak ESOP too!

Follow up with written information in Spanish and English.

Repetition is important when learning something new in any language. People often have different ways in which they retain new information, which is why we offer a written handout as well. It allows employees to take a tangible learning source with them and share it with their spouse and families. Often the key to communication is explaining the same concept in different ways.

Use visuals and pictures to show concepts in addition to words.

Pictures and visual presentations make it possible for people who may not have a shared vocabulary to formulate good questions. If we explain their meaning in English and Spanish, people can use visual tools to build future understanding. Using a visual model of the ESOP can also clarify answers to questions. “I had a lot of questions, but they were all answered by the end of the presentation,” noted one of the participants in the Spanish language breakout for Trainor Builders.

It’s good to repeat information and review questions again.

Trainor Builders leaders were able to preserve the one company meeting experience when participants from the small groups in Spanish & English brought their list of questions answered back to the other group. This provided an opportunity for more conversation about the answers. In addition, Blue Ridge is providing the company with recorded versions of the presentation in Spanish and English for employees to review later.

Define the terminology people will see in required ESOP communication.

“Discussing things like a trust and vesting are not part of most people’s everyday conversations in either English or Spanish,” notes Cecilia Garcia, one of Blue Ridge’s bilingual ESOP Communication Consultants. That’s why our custom communication services provide examples related to the company’s specific plan rules and the daily work people do each day in the company.

The blended language meeting was the right solution for this company’s ESOP communication goals.  As Tom Trainer noted, “We put the ESOP in because it provided the avenue that could move ownership of Trainor Builders to the same people who were already making the company successful. The ESOP will strengthen this business and provide a great benefit that people don’t have to pay for out of their own pocket. It’s important to us that everyone in our company understand together why we did it and how it will benefit them.”

Contact Workplace Development at ESOPCommunication@blueridgeesop.com if you’d like help enhancing the communication of your ESOP in English and Spanish.